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7 Steps to Great Translations

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Lauren Nemec photoFollow these seven steps for an efficient and cost-effective translation process.

1. Get Organized

A well-organized project will reduce stress, save money, and deliver a solid translation. Before you begin:

  • Review the original document to cut out parts that may not be necessary or relevant to your target markets. This will improve your materials and save time and money.
  • Finalize the document before sending it for translation. Changes to the source material during the process can be messy and expensive.
  • Ask your provider questions! Make sure your document will be translated by a native speaker who specializes in your field. Request to see translator CV's and select the translator whose experience and expertise best fits your job.
  • Understand project specifications before sending the project to your provider. If you do not understand, chances are your provider will not understand either.

2. Be Generous with Information

It is crucial that your provider understands as much as possible about the document's purpose. Useful information includes:

  • Audience: Is the document for internal or external use? Will it be read by employees or customers? Is the audience sympathetic or hostile?
  • Purpose: Does your document persuade people to buy your product or instruct them how to use it? Does it inform about an exciting new technology or announce a new product launch?

3. Use Translation Memory

Translation Memory can be a valuable asset for your company. Translation Memory:

  • improves quality and consistency of your translations by building up your preferred multilingual terminology and phrasing.
  • gives direct discounts off your translation rates; because a TM increases with every project, the more you translate, the more you will save through TM matches.

4. Set Reasonable Deadlines

A reasonable deadline allows the translator to craft a better translation and provides time for having the document proofread by a second translator.

When setting a deadline for your provider, keep these things in mind:

  • A translator’s capacity is about 2000 words of translation per day
  • A proofreader’s capacity is about 8000 words per day
  • Highly specialized content requires extra time for research
  • Additional services, such as DTP work, require additional time

5. Have a Flexible Budget

Understanding the market and its pricing factors can help you understand what kind of quality to expect for your money. Translation rates depend on any number of the following factors:

  • Volume of Work: Clearly, a longer document will be more expensive. However, large volumes of work could qualify for volume discounts.
  • File format: Providers will charge more to translate documents in formats such as InDesign, HTML or Framemaker than they will charge for common applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel.
  • Translation Memory: A mature TM will realize greater cost savings.
  • Desired deadline: Tight deadlines could incur rush fees.
  • Complexity of material: Translators in highly specialized fields may charge a premium for their expertise.
  • Country where provider is located: Translators will charge more in countries with a higher cost of living. Therefore, translations into Finnish, Japanese or Swedish will be more expensive than translations into Chinese, Czech or Russian.

6. Provide Support Material

Providing the project team with reference material will help them to choose the best terminology for your company and to adhere to your preferred writing styles. Excellent examples of support material include:

  • previous translations
  • websites
  • screenshots, pictures, graphs
  • company glossaries or dictionaries
  • style guides

7. Be Helpful

You can play a key role in the success of your project in the following ways:

  • Answer questions as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Good translators usually ask good questions about the material.
  • Provide reference material if a translator requests it.
  • Offer deadline extensions if the project team is struggling to finish on time.
  • Understand that unforeseen events can happen. Take a deep breath, be patient and work through the obstacle together.


Lauren Nemec
Marketing Manager
Article previously published on “A World of Translation Work” Translatus Blog.

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